Blog: Jill Dyché Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed!

Jill Dyché

There you are! What took you so long? This is my blog and it's about YOU.

Yes, you. Or at least it's about your company. Or people you work with in your company. Or people at other companies that are a lot like you. Or people at other companies that you'd rather not resemble at all. Or it's about your competitors and what they're doing, and whether you're doing it better. You get the idea. There's a swarm of swamis, shrinks, and gurus out there already, but I'm just a consultant who works with lots of clients, and the dirty little secret - shhh! - is my clients share a lot of the same challenges around data management, data governance, and data integration. Many of their stories are universal, and that's where you come in.

I'm hoping you'll pour a cup of tea (if this were another Web site, it would be a tumbler of single-malt, but never mind), open the blog, read a little bit and go, "Jeez, that sounds just like me." Or not. Either way, welcome on in. It really is all about you.

About the author >

Jill is a partner co-founder of Baseline Consulting, a technology and management consulting firm specializing in data integration and business analytics. Jill is the author of three acclaimed business books, the latest of which is Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth, co-authored with Evan Levy. Her blog, Inside the Biz, focuses on the business value of IT.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Jill's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

July 2010 Archives

By Caryn Maresic, Senior Consultant

summer reading by Robert S. Donovan via Flickr

Contribute to society and human well-being.   Avoid harm to others.   Be honest and trustworthy.   Be fair and take action not to discriminate.   Those are the first four items in the ACM Code of Ethics.   The ACM, for those who may not be familiar, is the Association for Computing Machinery, whose mission is to advance computing as a science and a profession.

In the course of a recent assignment with a major insurance carrier our team was asked to create various target lists for sales and marketing based on certain selection criteria.   While it is likely that all of the things they asked for were legal and ethical, we never questioned it.   As good Data Stewards, what should we have done in this case?   Should we be asking the business to justify their selection criteria?   Should we be checking to make sure there are no legal or ethical violations inherent in the rules?   A little research on the topic turned up this presentation  
which is very interesting and thought provoking.   That being said, it focuses more on the hot-topic issues like privacy and identity theft than it does the ethical dilemmas of sales and marketing.

This article tells the story of an ”Agent Profile System” set up by an insurer in Texas to rate its agents.   Agents who didn’t score well were punished by not getting any new business.   The agents filed suit contending this was illegal as it compelled them to drop clients with low credit ratings, low income, and/or those who lived in undesirable locations in order to boost their own score.   Is the IT team that built the Agent Profile System responsible, at least in part, for discrimination?

When we are dealing with situations where lives are in danger the ethical answer is clear.   For example, no reasonable person would deny that engineers working on Space Shuttle software have a duty to report concerns regarding possible malfunction.   In the BI community our issues are not always so clear cut.   Sometimes discrimination is good for the business’ bottom line, yet still unethical and possibly illegal.   If we go back to the statements ”Avoid harm to others” and ”Be fair” and ”take action not to discriminate” it appears that we should take serious our responsibility to be involved in how the business uses data.   In fact, I would argue that we should make ethical considerations part of our data governance program.

photo by Robert S. Donovan via Flickr (Creative Commons License)


Caryn_50x50 Caryn has over 20 years experience in providing high-quality data solutions to clients in the areas of Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing and System Integration.   Caryn has expertise in across industries with an emphasis in Pharmaceutical, Manufacturing, and Insurance.   Prior to joining to Baseline, she ran her own consulting company.


Posted July 15, 2010 6:00 AM
Permalink | No Comments |

by Caryn Maresic, Senior Consultant

Design

The Data Architect is the core of any BI team.   It is important to choose a person with the right skill set.   As I tried to put together a list of skills I looked to IT Toolbox and Database Answers for help, but my mind wandered a bit.   System Construction. Data Architect. Data Warehouse. Software Factory.   We like to portray what we do in terms of construction and/or manufacturing.   A recent client bemoaned her departments inability to move from ”building custom cars” to ”an assembly line”.   Comparing ourselves to these burly industries might make us feel strong, but it does it accurately represent what we aspire to be?

What is a Data Architect?   What should they know how to do?     I borrowed the following description from this article. Before you click, read on and see if you can guess what this is really describing.   I think it is a great description for a Data Architect:

A Data Architect is qualified by education, experience, and imagination to enhance the function and quality of systems. The purpose of this pursuit is to improve the quality of life, increase productivity, and protect the health, security, and welfare of the business.

The best Data Architects are capable of analyzing a client's needs, goals, safety and business requirements and integrating this information into a design that is both pleasing to the eye and functional. They will work with the client closely to develop preliminary design concepts that meet their aesthetic, functional, and economic needs while maintaining adherence to standards.

In essence, the best Data Architects are part detective, part artist, and part psychologist and they use these skill sets to create systems that fit a client's tastes and needs with their budget in mind.

Doesn’t that sound like a great job?   Sign me up!   What this is actually describing is an interior designer.   While I doubt that HGTV has any plans to showcase the next dashboard you build, we are indeed closer to Designing Women than Rosie the Riveter!   Stay tuned for future posts on the talents of a good Data Design Star.

photo by Annahape Gallery via Flickr (Creative Commons License)


Caryn_50x50 Caryn has over 20 years experience in providing high-quality data solutions to clients in the areas of Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing and System Integration.   Caryn has expertise in across industries with an emphasis in Pharmaceutical, Manufacturing, and Insurance.   Prior to joining to Baseline, she ran her own consulting company.


Posted July 8, 2010 6:00 AM
Permalink | No Comments |

By Caryn Maresic, Senior Consultant

Mickey Mouse by wrayckage via Flickr Creative Commons

Most Data Warehouse designs include constructs for Address, Phone, and/or Email for Customers.   Len Silverston came up with what he calls a Universal Data Model that does a very good job of abstracting address, email and phone number data.   I have seen clients use the Contact Point portion of his model as-is and with a few simplifications with great success.   That being said, in the area of Marketing and Sales, the manner in which we reach out to our customers and prospects gets more diverse every day.   Disneyland has just partnered with Verizon so that park guests can get real time information about the park and play Disney games on their phones....and, of course, Disney gets access to more information about its customers!

How does this new and ever changing world of communication change the way we think about and model contact points?   What would my ”address” look like if I were near the Haunted Mansion looking for a lunch spot?   Would it be different than if I were at Downtown Disney looking for a cup of coffee?   On Main Street looking for Winnie the Pooh?   In all instances I would be using the same phone, possibly the same IP address, but I would be in different locations which would be important to the marketeers at Disney.

As time goes by (and cell phone GPS systems become more accurate) I suspect that the way we run marketing campaigns to smart phones will be similar to the way in which we use billboards today.   Where the customer is physically located at any given time will be as important as the phone number and/or IP address, thus creating a two dimensional contact point.

Have you come across this issue in your organization?   Have you changed your data model to include two dimensional contact points?   If not, has the use of smart phones changed your data model in other ways?

photo by wrayckage via Flickr (Creative Commons license)


Caryn_50x50 Caryn has over 20 years experience in providing high-quality data solutions to clients in the areas of Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing and System Integration.   Caryn has expertise in across industries with an emphasis in Pharmaceutical, Manufacturing, and Insurance.   Prior to joining to Baseline, she ran her own consulting company.


Posted July 1, 2010 6:00 AM
Permalink | No Comments |